LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Las Vegas police made an arrest last week in a 26-year-old unsolved rape case, documents said.
Cotton Sutcliffe, 59, is accused of breaking into a woman’s home and raping her in late 1996, documents said.
The day of the incident, the victim reported to police that she had been sexually assaulted by an unknown man. A sexual assault kit was collected from the victim at a hospital and DNA evidence was uploaded into a database, documents said.
The victim said she was home when she heard a knock at the door and opened it, believing it was a neighbor. She told police an unknown man in his mid-20s forced his way inside and demanded $200, according to documents.
The suspect allegedly took the money she had in her pocket, hit her, and forced her to take her clothes off before raping her.
Hospital staff later noted the victim had multiple bruises on her body and a broken jaw, according to documents
The victim and witnesses told police the suspect left on a bicycle, documents said. The victim said she believed he followed her home after she had cashed a check at a casino downtown.
Documents indicated that no other advancements were made in the investigation until 2020, when detectives spoke with Sutcliffe.
In an interview in May 2020, Sutcliffe told police he had lived in Las Vegas since 1973 but didn’t recognize the victim when detectives showed him pictures of her, documents said.
When detectives asked if he could think of a reason why his DNA would have been found at the scene of the crime, Sutcliffe said, “Uh no. I don’t. I can’t.” He denied ever sexually assaulting anyone, according to documents.
More than a year later in May 2021, detectives contacted the victim, who said she wanted to move forward with the case. A search warrant for a DNA swab of Sutcliffe was authorized in October and executed in December. While police served the warrant, Sutcliffe said that “he would never rape anyone,” documents said.
In May 2022, detectives found that Sutcliffe’s DNA matched DNA found in the sexual assault kit taken from the victim.
On Wednesday, Oct. 12, detectives with the LVMPD Sex Offender Apprehension Program found Sutcliffe and arrested him on two counts of felony sexual assault.
He was booked into the Clark County Detention Center where he was being held Tuesday. He is scheduled to make a court appearance for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 29.